"Let us devote solid funding, courageous advocacy and unbending political will to achieving gender equality around the world. There is no greater investment in our common future."- UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon
International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.
The 2016 theme for International Women’s Day is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”.
The idea of this theme is to consider how to accelerate the 2030 Agenda, building momentum for the effective implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goals, especially goal number 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls; and number 4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning. The theme will also focus on new commitments under UN Women’s Step It Up initiative, and other existing commitments on gender equality, women’s empowerment and women’s human rights.
Some key targets of the 2030 Agenda:
By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and Goal-4 effective learning outcomes.
By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and preprimary education so that they are ready for primary education.
End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere.
Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation.
Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
Several initiatives deal specifically with gender equality in the Arctic. One of the most relevant initiative was the conference held in Akureyri, Iceland on 30-31 October 2014 with 150 participants representing various stakeholders from all member states of the Arctic Council: Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark (Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Iceland, Finland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden, the United States, and representatives of the Permanent Participants. The main organizers of the conference were the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Iceland, the Centre for Gender Equality in Iceland, the Stefansson Arctic Institute, and the Icelandic Arctic Cooperation Network in collaboration with the conference scoping committee and with the strong support of the Nordic Council of Ministers, Sweden, Finland, Norway, the Faroe Islands, the Aleut International Association, and the Arctic Council.
The conference report: "Gender Equality in the Arctic: Current Realities, Future Challenges" is available online. It contains summaries and highlights from the international conference. The purpose of the conference was to promote an extensive policy relevant dialogue on gender equality issues in the Arctic to lay the foundation for further cooperation of the many different stakeholders researching, teaching, discussing and promoting gender equality in the region.